Tag:Chicago Blackhawks
Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Etem, Saad lead final U.S. World Juniors roster

By Brian Stubits

The World Junior Championships are a really big deal in Canada. The country looks forward to them almost as much as it does the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The same can't be said in the U.S., but every battle against Team Canada ratchets up the excitement level. This year will be no different. The Americans took the bronze in the World Junior tourney last year but the year before came away with the gold in a 6-5 final win over the Canadians.

USA Hockey finalized its world Juniors roster on Thursday in a much less celebrated way than Canada, which has a media scrum at the door of every cut player when he is told the news. Ouch.

The American roster that will be challenged with not only beating the Canadians on New Year's Eve in Edmonton but also with winning the gold, has some experience to speak of. Seven players who were part of the 2011 U.S. National Junior squad are playing, highlighted by some high NHL prospects like Emerson Etem, Charlie Coyle and Derek Forbort.

Notre Dame, Minnesota and Miami U lead the way with two players apiece from their schools. As far as NHL teams with most prospects named, the Florida Panthers (Connor Brickley, Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad) and Chicago Blackhawks (Brandon Saad, Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns) lead the way with three each.

The apparent strength of the roster the U.S. has assembled chock full of first-round draft picks not only bodes well for the team's chance at another gold but also at the continuing strength of USA Hockey in its development levels.

Good news for fans who want to cheer on the Red, White and Blue, all games will be televised on NHL Network. The first tournament game for USA is on Monday, the day after Christmas against Denmark.

To see the USA Hockey release and team tournament schedule, click here. You can find the full team roster here. And as a public service announcement, @DaveStarmanCBS and @chrismpeters are great follows on Twitter if you want to keep up with the news on the U.S. World Juniors squad.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:45 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 9:54 pm
 

Martin Havlat out after hamstring surgery



By: Adam Gretz

Martin Havlat simply can't catch a break. He's the type of player that has a reputation for being a really good, productive player, but only when he's healthy. Unfortunately for the teams he's played for throughout his 11 year career (Ottawa, Chicago, Minnesota and now San Jose), that hasn't really happened as much as they would like.

He's played more than 70 games in a season just five times, and has topped the 80-game mark just once. That came during the 2008-09 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, a year that saw him set career highs in nearly in every offensive category.

That's not going to happen this season as the Sharks announced on Thursday evening that he is going to miss  an "extended period" of time after undergoing surgery for a partially torn hamstring.

He was acquired by the Sharks over the summer in the trade that sent Danny Heatley to Minnesota, and in his first 26 games with San Jose he scored two goals to go with 13 assists.

He was injured during a game on Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers, a game the Sharks won 3-2, as he attempted to jump over the boards (as seen in the video up top) to start his next shift. He had to crawl off the ice and was not able to return to the game.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 2:18 pm
 

The most dangerous player in hockey right now

malkinBy: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin is back, and right now it looks as if the Pittsburgh Penguins are his team.

When Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup last month the discussion immediately focussed on whether or not he could win the NHL's scoring title, despite missing the first 20-plus games of the season. As it turns out, Malkin is the Penguins forward we should have been looking at all along.

Thanks to his three-assist performance during a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, which came after a five-point destruction of the Buffalo Sabres over the weekend, Malkin moved into a tie for the top spot in the NHL scoring race with 39 points, catching Toronto's Phil Kessel, despite missing six games of his own.

Right now there isn't a more dangerous offensive player in the league, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Penguins.

For the second year in a row the Pittsburgh roster has been crushed by injuries and on any given night has had some combination of Crosby, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang, among many others, sidelined due to various ailments and injuries. Even with all of that, the team has a continued to pile up wins and stay near the top of the conference standings and have the look of a top Stanley Cup contender. Head coach Dan Bylsma certainly deserves a lot of credit for that, as does the Penguins front office, led by general manager Ray Shero, for having the type of organizational depth that allows the team to handle so many injuries to so many key players.

But it also doesn't hurt to have a player like Malkin, one of the most talented and skilled players in the world, that is always capable of taking over a game. And that's exactly what he's been doing for the Penguins this year. For much of this season he's been playing on a line with James Neal and free agent acquisition Steve Sullivan. When the Penguins acquired Neal last season it was done so under the assumption that he would eventually be the goal-scoring winger the Penguins have long been searching for to put alongside Crosby. But with Crosby missing so much time due to injury, Neal has found a home on Malkin's line, and along with Sullivan, have formed a trio that has been Pittsburgh's best on a nightly basis.

"I thought his line in particular, I know Geno is the big guy on that line, but their line played very well in the first," said Bylsma after Tuesday's game. "They attacked in every chance they got over the boards at 5-on-5, and on the power play. They were putting pucks behind and playing in the offensive zone and on the attack."

A couple of years ago Malkin was one of the players consistently mentioned in the "best player in the world" discussion, along with Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin. He won the scoring title during the 2008-09 season and then followed it up with a Conn Smythe performance in the postseason as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.

But over the past two seasons his production dropped a bit, perhaps due to lingering injuries, and then he missed the last half of the 2010-11 campaign, as well as the playoffs, due to a knee injury that he suffered when Buffalo's Tyler Myers awkwardly fell on his leg during a game last January. Because Malkin has always played second chair in Pittsburgh to Crosby, the face of the franchise, his name has always been the one that's been brought up in absurd trade rumors and baseless speculation for a wide range of reasons (I've brought this up before, but just google "Evgeni Malkin Trade" and start reading), including but not always limited to salary cap concerns, the need to acquire a goal-scoring winger, and, well, pretty much anything that anybody could throw against the wall in the hopes that it would stick. It never did, and for good reason.

Even though Malkin is the "No. 2" center in Pittsburgh (it's probably more of a 1A and 1B deal) when the team is at 100 percent, he has always had a knack for elevating his game when Crosby is out of the lineup. He did it during the 2007-08 season when Crosby missed extended time due to an ankle injury that came after he fell into the boards, and he's doing it again this season. On a per-game average he's actually scoring at a higher rate right now than he was during the '08-09 season when he won his Art Ross Trophy.

 "Geno has been a force offensively," said Bylsma on Tuesday. "But he's also a guy we're counting on to play against other teams top lines right now, and he's been good at both ends of the rink. He's been powerful and making plays and driving. He's going to have probably 10 scoring chances again with how he's dominating and how he's playing."

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 10:59 pm
 

Deryk Engelland's hit on Marcus Kruger (Video)



By: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- One of the most talked about plays during Pittsburgh's 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night was Deryk Engelland's hit (as seen in the above video) on Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger in the first period. Even though Engelland was not penalized, it turned out to be a huge play in the game, and perhaps a decisive play.

Not only was it a questionable hit that will probably get a second look from the NHL, but the Penguins actually came away with a power play in the aftermath due to a fight between Engelland and Blackhawks forward John Scott, arguably the toughest and most intimidating heavyweight in the NHL. Both players were assessed five minute majors for fighting, while Scott picked up an additional instigator penalty as well as a 10-minute misconduct. The Penguins eventually scored on the ensuing power play thanks to Chris Kunitz's 12th goal of the season, and in a game that was decided by a single goal, that's an early (and huge) turning point.

Kruger was able to return to the game briefly, taking a couple of shifts throughout the remainder of the first period, but did not get a single shift over the final 40 minutes of regulation. After the game Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, "He's doing OK now, but we'll see tomorrow, we'll have a better idea of how he's doing. Tough hit, high hit. Tough area, tough spot."

Even though Scott's instigator penalty put the Blackhawks down a man and resulted in a goal against, his teammates were quite accepting of the additional penalty he took in an effort to stick up for his teammate.

"We have to find a way to kill that off for him," said forward Viktor Stalberg. "That's why we have him in the lineup some nights, he did what he's supposed to do."

"I'm always going to stand up for my teammates," said Scott. "I'm going to do that everytime, no matter who it is. I think anybody else on the team would have done the same thing."

The question now becomes whether or not the NHL has an issue with Engelland's hit. The first angle is difficult to see how much, if any, contact was made with the head, but when you look at the second and third angles it becomes a little more clear that Kruger took a hit to the head.

"I'm sure they'll take a look at it," said Stalberg. "I think we felt like he left his feet a little bit there."

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 6:49 pm
 

Rene Bourque gets two games for boarding Seabrook

By Brian Stubits

Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque was suspended two games by Brendan Shanahan on Monday for his boarding of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook on Sunday night.

The hit came in the opening period of the game when Seabrook got stalled a little bit by the referee, losing the puck on the ref's skates. A moment later he was heading face first into the boards as a result of a Bourque check. Bourque was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit.

Seabrook left the game and didn't return, although the Blackhawks said it was more precautionary (we also heard that with Marc Staal and Sidney Crosby at points this season, so keep your fingers crossed, Chicago).

As is the case with most every suspension, the problem here is that Bourque delivers the hit squarely from behind, staring right at Seabrook's number. Every player in the NHL has to know by now that that is as good as a big red X -- don't hit!

One of the questionable parts about this hit was the role that Seabrook losing the puck in the referee's skates played. Shanahan explained why that didn't impact the decision.

"Seabrook loses control of the puck and then his stick makes contact with the skate of the referee," Shanahan said. "However, neither cause him to significantly turn his body immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit from Bourque. Despite the fact that Seabrook is looking back and to his right, Bourque continues his pursuit and finishes Seabrook high and forcefully from behind, driving Seabrook's head into the boards.

"Although losing the puck in the referee's feet may cause Seabrook to look back and might eventually cause him to turn, contact is made before he does. Seabrook is neither falling nor turning to any degree to absolve Bourque of responsibility."

Last night I had originally said that my call would be for no suspension as bad as the hit might have looked. Well I must have been tired because looking at the slow-motion replays, it does look pretty bad. I was sort of taking it for granted that Seabrook had turned back for the puck already, but as Shanny points out, he really hadn't turned yet.

Fair ruling?

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 10:55 pm
 

Rene Bourque ejected for boarding Brent Seabrook

By Brian Stubits

The fans of the Blackhawks were left holding their breath in the opening period of their 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. That's because star defenseman Brent Seabrook took a very rough and dangerous hit from Rene Bourque into the boards.

Seabrook stayed down on the ice for a few moments and was eventually helped to the locker room. He did not return in the game.

Bourque was given a five-minute major for boarding on the play as well as a game misconduct.

Before going any further, have a look at the hit.

The good news is that after the game, coach Joel Quenneville -- who picked up his 600th career win -- said that Seabrook appeared to be doing OK. "He seemed not bad after the game," Quennevill said. "We’ll know more [Monday]."

So for a player that has had a history with taking some rough head shots, that's very encouraging. More will come out on his status in coming days.

But of course the next order of business these days becomes questioning the legality of the hit that caused the injury and whether or not Brendan Shanahan will find it to be suspension worthy.

Like most, this one is very much debatable. The biggest issue is the fact that Seabrook is moving up the boards until he loses the puck and gets his stick stalled by the referee's skates, leading him to turn back and reach for the puck. That's when Bourque came in with the hit.

In the end, Bourque does deliver a hit to the numbers of an opponent. But he has a pretty good case here that he committed to the hit before Seabrook reached back and that Seabrook's change of position immediately prior to the hit led to it being dangerous. Plus, when discussing intent as Shanahan often does, it seems to be judging by Bourque's reaction immediately after the hit shows it wasn't his intent to hurt. It makes me uneasy trying to figure out what a player's intention is in these cases, but it's something Shanahan considers.

What we do know is that the hit is going to be reviewed closely by the NHL. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a suspension levied, but personally I'd err on the side of no suspension if it were my call. What's your take?

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Flyers streak on sans Pronger, G

Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

By Brian Stubits

There must be something in the water in Pennsylvania. That's the old cliché people turn to when they can't make sense of what's going on, how people (or teams in this case) continue to perform at a high level despite the obstacles.

We saw it last year (and again this season, really) with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite being without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the second half of last season, they just kept on winning. Their 106 points were tied with the Flyers for most in the Atlantic and were just one point behind the Capitals for best in the East.

This season, the Flyers are getting their own taste of life without their Stars. And just like their Keystone State brethren, they continue to win. As in seven in a row.

Philly has been playing without its captain Chris Pronger for a month now. After yesterday's news, they are going to have to play the rest of the season without him, too. In fact, some are saying that Pronger might never play a game again. After all, he is 37 and he has a life after hockey to think about.

As good as Pronger is and has been his entire career, the Flyers have done a good job overcoming his absence this season -- nay, a great job. Since he last played against Winnipeg on Nov. 19, the Flyers have won nine of 11 games.

As callous as it always feels, the Flyers must move on. While their captain and best defenseman deals with severe post-concussion syndrome, they have a very promising season to continue. With the roster freeze coming next week, it's unlikely the Flyers will acquire some additional help on the blue line in the near future, but it will have to be a consideration for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

Holmgren told the media on Friday that he's already considered that, having called all 29 teams, presumably about any defensemen they might have available.

But that's for then. Right now, the Flyers are making due without him or their budding superstar center Claude Giroux (or simply G, as they team calls him). It doesn't seem like it will be a long shelving for Giroux, but you never can know, concussions tend to be pretty fickle.

In the only games the Flyers have played without either player, they have won. Despite missing their leading scorer and a point-producing defenseman, Philly has still averaged 4.5 goals in the two games without Giroux and Pronger.

But now a real test comes to see how they compare with the other beats of the East without the two stars.

The Boston Bruins are nipping on the Flyers' heels for the best record in the Eastern Conference and they, too, have been playing without arguably their best player (skaters-only division) in Zdeno Chara. But the big man might be back in time for the Saturday matinee in Philadelphia.

"We're going to give him a chance to fly and see how he feels," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "If he feels good then we have a chance of seeing him."

Normally I'd lament this game being played without Giroux, Pronger and possibly Chara. But with the way both of them, the Flyers in particular, have played without the all-stars, I don't see it stopping what will likely still be a very good game.

Winnipeg welcome wagon rolls on

This first season with the Jets back in the NHL has been an ongoing welcome wagon for the folks in Manitoba. They were licking their chops at getting to see Ilya Bryzgalov, they relished the opportunity to see former Jet Shane Doan back in Winnipeg.

Now comes perhaps the best welcome/return of them all; Teemu Selanne.

The veteran once starred for the Jets before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks. He has waited for the chance to go back and play in the first NHL city he called home. Now it comes on Saturday night.

"You know, even when the schedule came out, even when I didn't know if I was going to play or not, I checked right away if we were going to Winnipeg," Selanne said. "That day was on my calendar right away.

"I knew there were two really special things. Obviously the Finland trip and then Winnipeg. It was really exciting to even think about it."

Unlike the welcomes fans in Winnipeg gave to Bryzgalov and, to an extent, Doan, it's hard to imagine there will be any jeers, only cheers for Selanne.

"He was so admired. It was overwhelming," Jets chairman Mark Chipman said of Selanne. "This guy was so good and so approachable and so humble in his approach that the community just absolutely fell head over heels for the guy."

Amazingly, Selanne is still performing at the level he was when he first broke into the NHL with the Jets in the early 90s. That's only going to help the flashbacks for the fans -- minus that whole wearing the Ducks jersey part.

Back in Buffalo

One of the more criticized offseason signings (excluding just about every move made by the Florida Panthers) was the Toronto Maple Leafs signing former Sabres center Tim Connolly. Leafs GM Brian Burke gave Connolly a two-year deal worth $4.75 million per season.

People in Buffalo laughed and simply said "Enjoy!" to their near-neighbors in Toronto. It wasn't about Connolly being a bad player -- he's not at all -- but it was about his health concerns. There always seemed to be something that was keeping Connolly on the bench.

So there's a sense of irony when the Maple Leafs visit the First Niagara Center this weekend. Connolly will be healthy and on the ice against his former team. Although he hasn't been without his health issues this season, when he's been on the ice, he's been good for Toronto. In 18 games played, he has 15 points.

On the other hand, the deal that Buffalo signed with Ville Leino was widely applauded. That one hasn't worked out so well.

Reunion tour continues

The Washington Capitals will be visiting the Colorado Avalanche this weekend. That means they will get to see their old goalie Semyon Varlamov up close and personal again.

Varlamov was traded to the Avs this summer after he made it clear that he was looking to play in the KHL over Washington. So Caps GM George McPhee swung a deal with the Avs to give them Varlamov in exchange for Colorado's first-round draft pick this offseason and their second-round pick.

So not only do the Caps get the chance to say hi to an old friend, but they can help themselves out in more ways than one. The points in the standings are the first and most obvious way, but every game without points for the Avs helps the Caps' first-round draft pick go higher and higher.

Although it's quieted down with Varlamov coming back down to earth, when he and the Avalanche were off to their hot starts, some in Washington wondered if the team made the wrong goalie decision. There might still be some questions considering the duo of Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth hasn't fared much better, if at all. But at least Neuvirth comes into the game having just shut out the Jets in Winnipeg, so there might be some positive momentum building. The goaltending problems have been as much an issue as anything in D.C. this season.

Canucks are still great

In fact, according to Roberto Luongo they are better than they were last season, which was great.

"We were one win away, so I don't think you need to change much," Luongo said. "That being said, though, we went through a lot last year, and I think we grew as a team. So for that reason alone, I think that we're better than last year."

That's even with him still getting a lot of starts in the net. Remember, he was a Vezina finalist last season. This season? Not so much.

Their next chance to prove Lu right will come in Toronto on Saturday evening for another Hockey Night in Canada appearance.

Stammer don't hurt 'em!

More like don't get hurt Stammer.

With his overtime winner on Thursday night, Steven Stamkos joined Milan Michalek on the top of the goal-scoring list this season with his 19th. Hopefully the same fate that has befallen many of the game's best scorers in recent weeks won't strike the Lightning's superstar.

With Michalek, Giroux, Sidney Crosby and Jeff Skinner (among many others) recently being diagnosed with concussions or at least post-concussion symptoms, the last thing the league wants is another young star to go down. If anything, it would probably love to see Stamkos go on one of his tears and become a positive story in the league again.

He'll have the chance to take the lead in the goals race by himself when Tampa Bay heads to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets.

We're going streaking!

Flyers: As mentioned, they are the hottest thing going in the NHL right now between their seven-game win streak and HBO's 24/7.

Bruins: Philly's opponent brings a modest three-game run of itself into the Saturday matchup.

Chicago Blackhawks: A double-dip awaits the Blackhawks and their three-game win streak as they face the Ducks and Flames.

Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues: We're going to combine these two because they are both riding four-game win streaks and they will face off against one another on Saturday. The Blues also have the Jackets on Sunday.

Dallas Stars: Last on the win side, the Pacific-leading Stars take to New Jersey seeking to extend their three-game streak on Scott Niedermayer Night.

New York Islanders: Once again, the Isles are slumping. They get to face the NHL-best Minnesota Wild with a four-game skid. The good news for New York is Minnesota is likely down a lot of bodies.

Florida Panthers The Southeast leaders are on a mini slump having lost three in a row. They have the Flames and Hurricanes at home this weekend to try and cure the ills.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 12:04 am
 

Patrick Kane's shootout winner (video)

By: Adam Gretz

The game of the night on Wednesday had to be in Minnesota as the Wild, owners of the top spot in the NHL standings, hosted the Chicago Blackhawks.

In the end, it was Chicago that came out on top thanks to a 4-3 win in a shootout, and while the game had plenty of interesting moments (example: this second period goal scored by the Wild after the linesmen curiously called off an icing play), it was Patrick Kane's game-winning goal in the tie-breaking skills competition that is making highlight reels across the league.

Try and keep track of how many times Kane deked goaltender Niklas Backstrom before finally slamming the puck into an empty net, after Backstrom was pretty much faked out of his pads.



For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com